Game 3: Red Sox at Orioles - Rubber game an early season test

Ben Whitehead
Contributing Writer

Sure, it would have been nice for Boston to fly into Baltimore and fly out with a series sweep. But given the current situation, a series win will be satisfactory. It also provides a test for the 2014 squad to show it remains the team to beat after the World Series run in '13.

Felix Doubront toes the rubber for the Red Sox in the, well, rubber game with the Orioles. Doubront has continued to be inconsistent in his starts through Spring Training, something that's followed him in his young career with the Sox. He sported an 11-6 record with a career-best 4.32 ERA a season ago. He pitched masterfully out of the bullpen during the Postseason, allowing just one run in seven innings over four appearances. John Farrell must have seen something this spring, though, as Doubront gets the call for the third game on a staff that includes veteran Jake Peavy and potential ace Clay Buchholz, the latter of whom's situation is dependent upon his health. Doubront, the second left-hander in the Sox rotation along with Jon Lester, provides that key righty-lefty balance and keeps opposing managers from stacking lineups consistently each night.

Here's the lineup that will back-up Doubront tonight (first pitch - 7:05 pm ET):

1) Gomes, LF
2) Pedroia, 2B
3) Ortiz, DH
4) Napoli, 1B
5) Bogaerts, SS
6) Nava, RF
7) Middlebrooks, 3B
8) Ross, C
9) Bradley Jr., CF

Doubront, P

Starting on the mound for the Orioles is Wei-Yin Chen. Chen went 7-7 with a 4.07 ERA in just his second season in the big leagues. He was 0-2 with a pair of no-decisions against Boston last year, and allowed exactly three runs in three of his four starts against the Sox (allowed eight runs in the other).

Stay hot, Pedey
Dustin Pedroia is batting a sizzling .600 this season - OK, that stat is based on two games and he's 6-for-10. But, the Laser Show had four hits in Wednesday's contest, a feat he never accomplished in 2013. His last four-hit performance came in August 2012. Pedroia also made a spectacular diving stop and throw from behind second base, robbing J.J. Hardy of a single.

Papi and 'Poli Power
David Ortiz cranked his first home run, launching a two-run shot onto Eutaw Street in Baltimore in the third inning. Mike Napoli followed with a two-run homer to straightaway center in the fifth. That led to an interesting situation in the seventh, when Papi came up with runners on second and third. He was intentionally walked to load the bases for Napoli, who singled to score two runs. It was Napoli's seventh four-RBI game since the start of the '13 season, the most in MLB.

This and that
Jackie Bradley Jr. gets his first start of the season in center field, providing a day off for Grady Sizemore. Sizemore has two hits in eight at-bats ... Likewise, catcher David Ross will see his first action of 2014, in place of A.J. Pierzynski, who also is 2-for-8 ... Farrell is mixing up the lineup today and has moved Xander Bogaerts to the fifth spot (from seventh). X-Man is batting .400 with a .625 on-base percentage. Daniel Nava shifts down out of the leadoff spot to sixth and taking his place is Jonny Gomes, who hasn't batted leadoff in a MLB game since 2007.

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